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"When the Girl Grows Up" by Cho Nam-joo

#Books on Demand l 2020-03-31

Books on Demand

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March Special “Women in Literature” 

Episode 5 “When the Girl Grows Up”



“I’m only telling you this because I like you. You know the girl called Eun-bi? She is one messed up girl. Did you know that your Joo-ha is hanging out with her?” 

“This is the first time I’m hearing about the incident, so I can’t give you an answer right now. I will have to talk to Joo-ha first.” 


“내가 자기니까 말해주는 거야.

 은비라는 애, 하, 진짜 못쓰겠더라.

 자기 주하가 그런 애랑 어울리는 거 알고 있었어?”

“제가, 지금, 처음 듣는 얘기라서, 지금은 뭐라고 대답을 못할 것 같아요.

 일단 주하랑 얘기를 좀...”



Hyeon-seong’s mother went on to explain like this. Hyeon-seong took pictures of Eun-bi under her skirt and Joo-ha recorded him on her phone. This incident was reported to the school board as a sexual harassment case. She was asking Joo-ha to testify to the school board in defense of Hyeon-seong. 



“Are you telling me to lie so that Hyeon-seong can weasel out of this?” 


“No, I’m telling you to be honest with me and tell me everything so that I can protect you.” 


“I already told you the truth. He pretended to take selfies when he was actually taking photos of girls’ legs or breasts. He did it to me a few times too. Do you know how disgusting that makes me feel?” 


“Is that why you recorded him? So, you tricked him?”


“You are all the same.” 


“No, I’m not. I’m not the same! You don’t know what I’ve seen and what I’ve learned while growing up. I’ve been to sex education camps since I was your age.”


“Yeah, now you’ve become a person who tells me that those boys didn’t mean it, that I have to be the one to understand, that they were just boys playing pranks. Mom, keep up with the time.” 


It’s already been 20 years. What happened to me in those 20 years?



“지금 현성이 과고 갈 수 있게 나한테 거짓말을 하라는 거야?” 

“아니, 엄마한테는 솔직하게 얘기해달라는 거야.”

“솔직히 말했잖아.

 현성이가 일부러 은비 치마 아래로 핸드폰을 들걸핏하면 여자애들 다리나 가슴쪽으로 카메라 뻗으면서 셀카모드로 해서 찰칵찰칵 소리내고 낄낄거린다고.

 나도 몇 번 당했어. 기분이 얼마나 더러운지 알아?”

“그래서 너희가 유인한거야?”

“엄마도 똑같네” 

“아니! 엄마 똑같지 않아!

 너 엄마가 뭘 보고 배우면서 어떻게 자랐는지 몰라?

 엄마는 너만할 때부터 성교육 캠프 다니던 사람이야.”

“그랬겠지, 무려 20년전에.

 그리고 지금 엄마는 남자애들은 생각이 없다, 이해해줘야 한다,

 몰래 사진 찍고 찔낄거리는게 장난이다, 그러는 사람이 됐어.

 그런 한심한 소리나 하는 사람이 됐다고.

 그러니까 엄마, 업데이트 좀 해”


벌써 20년 전 일이구나.

20년동안 나한테는 무슨 일이 있었던 걸까.




Cho Nam-joo (Born in Nov. 1978)

: Won the 17th Munhak Dongne Literature Award in 2011, the 2nd Hwangsanbeol Youth Literature Award in 2016, etc.

Acclaimed works include “Kim Ji-young, Born 1982,” etc.

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